Affogato in a cup

The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 dessert
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
237 Calories
15g Fat
23g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 237
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 144mg 48%
Sodium 115mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 102mg 8%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 185mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

When you make an affogato, there's no need to choose between coffee and dessert after dinner. This is a brilliant Italian ice cream treat that's topped with espresso and it's incredibly easy to make. It's perfect for a dinner party, but it's too delightful to reserve for special occasions. Enjoy an affogato on a weeknight or when you need an utterly delicious afternoon pick-me-up.

The affogato was designed to feature two of Italy's favorite things: espresso and gelato. Literally meaning "drowned," affogato first appeared in the dictionary in the early 1990s and the dessert drink has since found fans worldwide. You can make it with espresso and vanilla gelato, or switch to strongly brewed coffee and vanilla ice cream. If you like, spike it with a liqueur—amaretto, hazelnut, and Irish cream are favorites.

In theory, pouring hot coffee over ice cream would cause it to melt, but that's not the case here. The trick is to serve it in an ice-cold glass or dessert dish. This balances out the temperature difference and the coffee will slide down the sides of the glass, encasing the sweet frozen cream. Place glasses in the freezer for at least 15 minutes—or before you sit down for dinner—and they'll be ready for your special dessert.

"Affogato is absolutely delicious! I served this as part of a dessert with a very simple pound cake. Everybody loved it!" —Diana Andrews

Affogato/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 scoop vanilla gelato, or ice cream

  • 2 ounces hot espresso, or strongly brewed hot coffee

  • Grated chocolate, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Affogato ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. In a chilled glass or dessert dish, place a large scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream.

    Ice cream served in a cup

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  3. Slowly pour the espresso or coffee over the ice cream.

    Coffee poured over ice cream in a cup

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  4. Garnish with shaved or grated chocolate, and serve with a spoon.

    Affogato in cups

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack


  • Espresso is traditional in the affogato, but it's not necessary. Instead, brew the strongest coffee you can. A French press, pour-over brewer, or moka pot will create a flavorful, rich coffee that's perfect for this treat.
  • For the best affogato, use a gelato or ice cream flavored with real vanilla beans. The vanilla flavor will be more intense and natural, a perfect pairing for the coffee.

Recipe Variations

  • If desired, pour an ounce of the liqueur of your choice over the ice cream. Hazelnut (e.g., Frangelico) and amaretto liqueurs add a nice nuttiness, though some people enjoy it with Irish cream. Coffee liqueur and espresso vodka are good options, too.
  • For even more flavor dimension, pour a dessert wine, such as sherry or a tawny port. Moscatos or ice wines can be interesting but may get lost behind the coffee flavor.
  • Italian amaros are a very interesting addition. A flavorful bitter like Averna or Ramazotti can make a big impact on an affogato.
  • Switch from vanilla to chocolate or coffee ice cream.
  • During the cold months, sprinkle the affogato with ground cinnamon or nutmeg for a seasonal touch.